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Great Music in Old Comedies

There is a lot of great music in old comedies.

The Bob Hope of the 1930s and 1940s was a far different guy than the reactionary character of the 1960s and 1970s. The earlier Hope was funny and had what in those days passed for a streak of anti-authoritarianism. He spent the latter two decades comfortably coasting on cynical hippie jokes and embarrassingly unfunny and horrendously produced television specials. If you didn’t see them, it’s hard to imagine just how lame those shows were.

But, as bad as Hope was as a comedian at the end, he deserves immense credit for continuing to travel to entertain the troops.

The true subversive, of course, was Groucho. Here is the Hello, I Must Be Going/Hooray for Captain Spaulding sequence from Animal Crackers. It is a pure delight, except for the unfortunate racism of the first few moments. Margaret Dumont was just perfect.

Seeing the perpetual innocence of Laurel and Hardy after so many years is like visiting the old neighborhood. This dance is from Way Out West. Oliver Hardy was quite agile for a guy that big. The interesting thing is that Stan Laurel was deeply involved in putting the films together. Hardy — called “Babe” by his contemporaries — couldn’t care less. He played golf until told to show up for shooting.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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